Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Retraction notice cites misconduct investigation into endowed chair’s work; he threatens to sue

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Mark Jackson

A researcher has threatened to sue publisher Taylor & Francis for mentioning a misconduct investigation into his work in a retraction notice.

According to the notice, the publisher retracted a 2008 paper and a book chapter after learning about a misconduct investigation into the work of Mark Jackson, a department head and endowed chair, respectively, at universities in Kansas.

Unfortunately, we don’t know much about the nature of the misconduct investigation; Jackson told us he initiated the retractions after raising concerns his colleagues had violated intellectual property. He has since told the publisher he would take legal action if it didn’t remove the phrase noting that the retractions stem from a misconduct investigation into his work from the notice.

Here’s the notice, issued by Materials Science and Technology:

We, the Editors, Rights Holder in, and Publishers of Materials Science and Technology have retracted the following article:

Initial shear strain development during formation of nanostructured metal chips by M. J. Jackson, M. D. Whitfield, J. S. Morrell, W. Ahmed & J. P. Davim, Materials Science and Technology Volume 24, 2008 – Issue 12

Our decision to retract this article, and to put ‘out-of-print’ a book chapter:

“The Size Effect in Micromachining,” Milton C. Shaw and Mark J. Jackson, Chapter 4 in Microfabrication and Nanomanufacturing, Mark J. Jackson, editor (CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton, FL), 2006, pp. 87-109.

has been informed by a research misconduct investigation by Purdue University into research conducted by M. J. Jackson.

Initial shear strain development during formation of nanostructured metal chips” has been cited two times since it appeared in 2008, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters.

MJ Jackson is Mark Jackson, who in 2013 took over as the head of engineering technology at Kansas State Polytechnic. He also holds an endowed chair at Kansas State University in Salina. At the time the research was published, he was at Purdue University, in Indiana.

Jackson forwarded us part of a message he sent to Taylor & Francis last week:

Having spoken to my colleagues about this situation, I agree with them that the sentence, ‘has been informed by a research misconduct investigation by Purdue University into research conducted by M. J. Jackson’, should be completely withdrawn because we did not approve of this publication to be printed and we did not sign copyright be transferred to Taylor and Francis.  This was the basis of my complaint to Purdue in 2006, 2008 and 2010, which they have chosen to ignore to protect the theft of IP that they have patented, published and commercialized.  You should also be aware that Purdue University did not ask any of the co-authors to provide evidence during their investigations, making their conclusions biased against me and my colleagues.  Therefore, we all ask you to remove this sentence in order to avoid potential litigation against Taylor and Francis.

Please consider that internal investigations against external entities may suffer from biased opinions/conclusions when those external entities have been excluded from such investigations.

Jackson told us:

I may add that the retractions were originally requested by me and my associates in 2010 when I asked Purdue University to investigate the conduct of two professors and their associates regarding the theft of IP that belongs to Saint-Gobain Corporation (pertaining to inventions that were disclosed by me in 1995/96 when I was employed at Saint-Gobain Corporation) and the publication of incomplete experimental data that belonged to me and my associates, which were subsequently published without permissions from me or my associates.  Although I would like to provide you with full details, I am in the process of hiring an attorney in Indiana to represent me without conflict of interest who is adverse to Purdue University, this is not easy and will take a bit of time to find the right person to challenge their findings and litigate for defamation of character.

Jackson added:

As of today (4/16/2017), the Taylor and Francis site records that the page has been viewed 61 times.  Clearly, this constitutes a case for defamation of character.

Deborah Rupp, the research integrity officer at Purdue, did not tell us much about the nature of the misconduct investigation:

Purdue confirms the referenced editor’s attribution to a research misconduct investigation by Purdue University into research conducted by M. J. Jackson. According to Dr. Jackson, he submitted the initial retraction requests to the publisher for these publications.  Purdue has no further comment.

According to the announcement of his appointment at Kansas State, Jackson brought in more than $10 million in research contracts while working at the University of Liverpool, which he joined in 1998. He also once held multiple positions at Unicorn Abrasives’ Central Research and Development Laboratory (Saint-Gobain Abrasives’ Group).

Here’s more about Jackson’s funding, from a bio on the Springer site:

Doctor Jackson has directed, co-directed, and managed research grants funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, The Royal Society of London, The Royal Academy of Engineering (London), European Union, Ministry of Defense (London), Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, National Science Foundation, N.A.S.A., U. S. Department of Energy (through Oak Ridge National Laboratory), Y12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Industrial Companies, which has generated research income in excess of $15 million.

Here’s more about his publishing background from his bio by the Abrasive Engineering Society, which appears to mention the book that includes the now-retracted chapter:

He has authored and co-authored over 250 publications in archived journals and refereed conference proceedings, has written a book on “micro and nanomanufacturing”, is guest editor to a number of refereed journals, and has edited a book on “commercializing micro- and nanotechnology products”. He is the co-editor of the “Journal of Manufacturing Technology Research”, associate editor of the “International Journal of Molecular Engineering”, and is on the editorial boards of the “International Journal of Machining and Machinability of Materials”, “International Journal of Computational Materials Science and Surface Engineering”, “International Journal of Nanomanufacturing”, “International Journal of Nano and Biomaterials”, and the “International Journal of Manufacturing Research”.

We have contacted the editors of the journal Materials Science and Technology as well as Kansas State. We’ll update if anyone responds.

We contacted a representative of Taylor & Francis this morning after learning of Jackson’s correspondence with them, and received an automated email that the offices were closed today.

The last author on the retracted paper, J.P. Davim, appears to have lost another 2008 paper from another Taylor and Francis journal right after it was published; this notice in Machining Science and Technology also did not provide much information:

Following publication in the online version of Machining Science and Technology, Volume 12, Issue 2, the authors have requested that the article be withdrawn. Therefore, the article has been retracted from the online edition of Machining Science and Technology and removed from the print edition.

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  • blah April 17, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    It is, in fact, going to be difficult to find a lawyer who will represent you with a defamation claim in America when you don’t challenge the facts of a retraction notice.

    Is/was there a research misconduct investigation? Did it inform the decision to retract? If the answer to both is “yes” then you need to look for a venue outside of America if you want to sue.

    In my experience, when you have one person making legal threats, citing the authority of unnamed colleagues, and selectively revealing information about what are presumably confidential internal investigations… while everyone on the other side is tight-lipped… there’s usually a lot more to the story.

    This is the kind of situation where off-the-record conversations can be really valuable.

  • Anonymous April 17, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    I am confused about what possible circumstance could cause him to retract his own paper over IP violations by others, but who knows.

    What I do know is that this seems like a lot of hoopla over a paper that has been cited 2 times in 8+ years. All he’s doing is drawing attention to the situation.

    • anon April 21, 2017 at 6:15 pm

      I’m completely confused by the copyright transfer part. Is he saying that he didn’t want the publication to appear if the first place? But why was it even written, then?

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